Dopamine D1 and D2 receptors as well as the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor complex in the striatum and the globus pallidus (internal: GPi and external: GPe) were studied by autoradiography using [3H]SCH 23390, [3H]spiperone, and [3H]flunitrazepam ([3H]FNZ) respectively, in five groups of cynomolgus monkeys. These included (i) untreated 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-monkeys; (ii) MPTP monkeys treated chronically with levodopa injections; (iii) MPTP monkeys treated chronically with injections of the novel D2 agonist U91356A; (iv) MPTP monkeys treated chronically with U91356A delivered through an osmotic mini-pump; and (5) naive controls. Animals treated in a pulsatile mode with U91356A or levodopa injections showed progressive sensitization to their respective drug and developed choreic dyskinesia. In contrast, animals treated in a continuous mode with U91356A showed behavioral tolerance but did not develop dyskinesia. A trend for a down-regulation of putaminal D2 receptors was observed following D2 agonist stimulation with U913356A. Striatal [3H]FNZ binding was significantly decreased only in animals treated in a continuous mode with U91356A. The dopamine receptor decrease in the striatum could be implicated with the development of tolerance but cannot explain the appearance of dyskinesia. Denervation by MPTP was associated with a decrease of the GPe/GPi [3H]FNZ binding ratio which reflects an imbalance of striatal output pathways; this ratio was not reversed by any of the treatments although changes were observed in the GPe and GPi. Indeed, pulsatile U91356A treatment restored the decreased [3H]FNZ binding in the GPe near control values and levodopa showed a similar tendency. A significant increase of [3H]FNZ binding in the GPi only of dyskinetic monkeys, namely those treated with pulsatile U91356A or levodopa was seen compared to untreated MPTP or naive controls. This GABAA receptor up-regulation might lead to a supersensitive state of the GPi to gabaergic input which may be involved in the mechanism underlying the development of dopaminomimetic-induced dyskinesia.